My must-read books list

My long list of books I’ve loved… These are books from all genres and none, for all ages. It’s not a snob list of books I pretend I’ve read – I have actually read each of these, to the end, at least once. And I think everyone would enjoy most of them, too.

I’ve adapted a list I filched off Facebook, removed some, added some. There’ll be lots I’ve missed off or *shame* forgotten. I’ve stuck to one (max 2) books by any author, even though it pained me to resist temptation.

I invite you to do the same and pass on your list. But before you do, please let me which of these you’ve read (or your top 5 or 10 favourites off the list) and which titles you’d add or delete.

And which of these have you hated? Or tried to read and gave up in boredom or disgust? I junked Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and the Shipping News, for instance. Got bored by the first, and enraged by the second.

This isn’t a contest and there are no right or wrong answers. It’s just fun to see what people read, what they like and what they don’t.

There are two which you might think I’ve chosen just because of their titles. You’ll know when you see them… But genuinely I love these books for much more than the title (although they are little extra bonuses).

Tell me about your books and whether they’ve changed your life in any way. And what are you reading right now?

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Hysterical writers competition

First, punctuate the headline.

Then… a short story and/or poetry competition for women writing in English, but of any nationality. Closing date is 31st August, but submission is by email.

Details here…

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…should cockroaches eat the last few pages

“Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.”

This is the last of Kurt Vonnegut’s eight tips on writing a short story.

And here’s No. 5:

“Start as close to the end as possible.”

And No.6, which I like partly because it’s good advice but partly because he gives Sadist a capital S, since it’s after the Marquis de Sade, who had one too.

“Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them – in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”

The missing numbers are worth knowing as well, so here they all are. Thanks to  Brain Pickings, a fantastic resource for writers. Or a resource for fantastic writers. Or both, a fantastic writers’ resource.

Costa short story prize inviting entries now


The Costa Book Awards has opened its doors to short story writers.

This award is for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words by an author of 18 years or over. The story must be written in English.

Entry opened on Monday 16 July 2012 and will close at 4pm on Friday 7 September 2012.

Have you got a story to enter? At least got an idea? Crack on…